So where have all the workers gone? Seriously? A record-high 11 million jobs are waiting to be filled across the U.S., and we have record supply chain shortages, record goods and services shortages, record real estate prices, climbing inflation and no one is working. The math just doesn’t add up. Where is everyone, and what are they living on?
Well, the answer is interesting to say the least.
The Great Resignation
So, this is a real thing. But why? Since the COVID lockdowns and shift to remote working environments, unprecedented numbers of Gen-X and Millennials are re-evaluating their middle management corporate positions and rejecting the consumerist lifestyle we were all sold as young people. College degrees, big houses, fancy cars… Turns out the spend, spend, spend lifestyle wasn’t what we were promised.
These workers are turning to simpler lifestyles, with more control over their lives and less stress. More family time, and work that they actually enjoy. Trading in the 24-7 fast-paced career, for a trade, craft, or entrepreneurial venture. Something they can be proud of. Turns out there was no pride in the corporate ladder, corner office, or golden handcuffs. The answer to their happiness was at home all the time.
The Great Retirement
With almost 29 million boomers retiring in 2020, and another 50 million set to retire in the next 7 years, the boomers are simply saying “enough already”. This trend of mass retirement will lead to an even wider workforce gap as companies race to fill positions left by retirees. As these workers also normally hold higher-level management positions due to their extensive working experience, the competition to find replacements will be tough with many businesses turning to recruiters to look for top talent.
The Path Forward
Offer flexibility in the workplace
Gen X workers and Millennials are often working parents or caregivers to their parents or grandparents. With distance learning changing often and suddenly, you’ll need to be supportive of employees who are pulling double duty working and taking care of their family during the day. Offering more flexibility to parents by letting them work from home and by measuring their performance on results (not hours worked) will help retain valuable employees who won’t have to choose between family and their job.
Close skills gaps with reskilling and upskilling
Younger workers, especially Gen Z, won’t have the decades of experience that retiring Baby Boomers have. Instead of brushing-off young talent for a lack of skills, take the time to train them on the skills they need. If your company doesn’t have a formal training program, ask them to enroll in online courses. There are dozens of training courses available at no cost.
Outsource Outsource Outsource
This is your most powerful tool. Many of these experienced professionals are now in the freelance consulting market, and in many cases, you can hire experienced executive level people for project management positions. Even better, you can hire them as a 1099 for the hours needed, rather than as a full-time employee with all the burdens. This trend will provide the workers the control and flexibility they want, while providing your company with a higher talent and skill level at a lower overall cost.